As I’m finishing up the second week of my second year of pharmacy school, my free time is disappearing almost exponentially. I figured I might as well squeeze in one last post before I’m completely overwhelmed. Though I have a ton of recipes I’m itching to share, posts will be minimal bordering on nonexistent until I hit winter break.
I first came to discover Mexican shrimp cocktail, or cóctel de camerones, in an argument with my husband a few years back. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation started, but I remember commenting on how good the shrimp cocktail looked wherever we were at at the time. Alejandro simply responded with “that isn’t shrimp cocktail.” Speechless, I turned to him for explanation. The confusion must have been obvious from my expression, and was I’m sure the goal of his comment. He matter of factly explained what Mexican shrimp cocktail was, stating that it was one of his favorite foods to order at Mexican restaurants. Though we had already been dating a couple years, this was new information to me. I vowed to try it the next time we ate at a restaurant that served it. Though I tried hard to find fault, I had to admit cóctel de camerones was pretty darn good, with flavors and freshness far surpassing the plain American version of shrimp cocktail.
American shrimp cocktail, with its delicious horseradish and ketchup sauce, will forever be “shrimp cocktail” to me. However, I have definitely found cóctel de camerones to be a new favorite meal. It has been especially refreshing on warm summer days these past few months and is another item I can cross off my bucket list!
The recipe can easily be tweaked to adjust for personal preferences. I halved the amount of fresh onion and celery from the original recipe because those flavors were too strong for us. I also increased the amount of cucumber because I love it in the dish (and because we are currently drowning in cucumbers from our garden) and added in garlic as well. I find that one moderately spicy jalapeño provides sufficient spice for my tastes, but Alejandro definitely has to add hot sauce.
1 lb. raw shrimp
½ cup chopped onion
1½ cup diced cucumber
¼ cup minced celery (about one stalk)
1 jalapeño, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. tomatoes, chopped or 1 (15 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Juice of a lime
1 avocado, chopped
hot sauce to taste
1. Peel and devein shrimp, reserving the shells. Place shells in 6 cups of cool salted water (a Tbsp salt for 2 quarts of water), bring to a boil, then strain out the shells. This step can be skipped if your shrimp came shelled or you are running low on time. Return water to a boil, add shrimp, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until just cooked through. Reserve and chill a cup of the cooking water.
2. Cut half of the cooked shrimp into chunks, leaving the other half whole for a more attractive presentation. Allow shrimp to cool to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, mix together onion, cucumber, celery, jalapeño, garlic, tomatoes, ketchup, cilantro, and lime juice. Gently stir in shrimp and refrigerate until chilled.
4. Once the cocktail mixture and cooking water has chilled, add a little of the water a time to the shrimp cocktail until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
5. To serve, season cocktail with salt and hot sauce to taste and gently mix in the chopped avocados. Serve with tortilla chips.
Yield: 4 servings
(Recipe slightly adapted from Simply Recipes)